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Basic Frosting Recipes

Birthday cakes come in all shapes, sizes and styles, but one thing they all have in common? Frosting! Below, 3 most basic frosting recipes and what cakes taste best layered in each of them.

Whether you top yours with a classic buttercream, a more savory cream cheese style or a light, fluffy whipped cream kind, here are the three most basic frosting recipes we use. They're tried and true, and any birthday cake will taste fantastic topped with any of these.

Our Go-To Buttercream Frosting:

Use It For:

Just about any cake - the possibilities are endless. We love the classic buttercream recipe (below) for favorites like vanilla, chocolate or strawberry cake, but with the additional ingredient here or there (think fresh fruit, chocolate, cookies, sprinkles) the recipe is transformed and perfect for any cake.

  • 2 sticks of butter, softened (1/2 pound - should be enough for a cake
  • >4 cups confectioner's sugar (+ more if you like it sweeter - a 1 pound box is always more than enough, though!)
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoon vanilla extract (or replace with any other flavor)

Cream your butter in a mixer until it's lighter in color and fluffy. Gradually incorporate your sugar - we like to sift ours first. Finally, add in the milk and vanilla extract on a higher speed. Allow to cream together for about 3 - 5 minutes.

Frosting will be good for up to 4 days when sealed in an air-tight container!

It's easy to adjust the flavor to your buttercream - add lemon or mint extract instead of vanilla for a different flavor. Sprinkle with Oreo cookies for a cookies and cream taste, or mix in a cup cocoa or melted chocolate for a chocolate buttercream frosting.


Our Go-To Cream Cheese Frosting:

Our baking contributor, Krissy Winnick uses this cream cheese frosting recipe and since working with her, it's the only one we'll use, too! We love the balance of creamy, sweet and tart in her version - plus, it couldn't be easier to make!

Use it For:

Cream cheese frosting is, and rightly so, most associated with red velvet cakes. We also like to use this type of frosting for sweet trifles the way Krissy did here.

  • 8 ounces Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter, at Room Temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups Confections Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Get the directions to make cream cheese frosting.


Our Go-To Whipped Cream Frosting:

Whipped cream frosting is light, fluffy, creamy and perfect for cakes or desserts that are already sweet.

Use it For:

We use ours on homemade ice cream cakes, trifles and other layered dessert recipes that don't require a whole lot more to make them delicious.

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons fine sugar

In a cold metal bowl, whisk your heavy cream (we use a hand held electric mixer) until it starts to thicken. Gradually add in your sugar, one tablespoon at a time, mixing until soft peaks have formed.

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